Chapter

Hungry and Homeless in the Depression

David F. Crew

in Germans on Welfare

Published in print May 1998 | ISBN: 9780195053111
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854479 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195053111.003.0010
Hungry and Homeless in the Depression

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During the Depression Germany experienced a decade long deterioration of nutrition. This was brought on by the wartime food shortages, the continuation of the Allied blockade after the armistice, postwar transportation problems, the dismantling of state rationing, and the effects of soaring inflation. Many Germans were forced to avail the “subsistence economy” for their food and other basic needs. Miners and their families had to grow their own food, some stole food while others relied on war kitchens. Doctors and nutritionists devoted a great deal of attention to the task of keeping people on welfare alive and healthy. Like food, clothing had symbolic as well as practical significance. Clothing was a sign of respectability. Welfare authorities were also concerned with the effects of homelessness on German families. Thus, critics of the Weimar welfare system saw the Depression as an opportunity to reverse social and cultural trends.

Keywords: Depression; food shortages; Allied blockade; postwar transportation; state rationing; inflation; subsistence economy

Chapter.  12539 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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